Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1030/28726

From The Socialist newspaper, 20 February 2019

TV: Les Misérables - Hugo's novel and this adaptation both offer a message of hope

Les Misérables on the BBC

Les Misérables on the BBC   (Click to enlarge)

Derek McMillan

Les Misérables started life as a three-volume novel by Victor Hugo written during his political exile from France. In the preface, he wrote: "So long as the three problems of the age - the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night - are not solved; ... so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless."

Victor Hugo was identified in the public mind with the main character, Jean Valjean. When a reactionary mob attacked Hugo's house in Brussels at the time of the Paris Commune (1871) - he had denounced the Belgian government's refusal to grant political asylum to the revolutionary Communards - they shouted "Down with Jean Valjean"!

To adapt a three-volume novel into a TV series is no mean feat and it does make the story available to a whole new audience.

The character played by Dominic West - prisoner 24601, Jean Valjean - dominates the narrative of the BBC production of Les Misérables. There are no spoilers in this review but his fate represents the incredible injustice of the regime in France and the appalling treatment of the poor in the wake of the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.

Fantine and her impossible task of keeping her daughter and her job is brilliantly portrayed by Lily Collins. The poor in general had a rough deal in that period; the working-class women suffered it twofold. It is the death of Fantine which spurs Jean Valjean into action and begins a chain of events which disrupt the comfortable life he has made for himself.

Dark side

The vicious behaviour of Javert, the policeman, played by David Oyelowo is a personalisation of the cruelty of the law. Jean Valjean's 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread is justified for Javert because "it's the law".

Those familiar with the musical version will remember the comic roles of Thérnardier and his wife. The dark side of the characters is much more to the fore in this adaptation. However, the scene in episode three where Madame Thérnadier (Olivia Colman) is making a game out of beating Cosette, to the great amusement of the clientele of their inn, is brilliantly choreographed. It is a situation in which the laughter of the audience is crueller than the actions of the actor.

For all the darkness, the novel and this adaptation both offer a message of hope. Jean Valjean's personal struggle for redemption could be a metaphor for the redemption of French society - which the revolutionaries of the day, like the 'gilets jaunes' (yellow vests) of today, seek to bring about. Socialists should be inspired by this story.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 20 February 2019:


News

Nationalise Airbus and other manufacturing plants to save jobs now!

NHS crisis deepens: Workers' and community action can save our health service

What we heard

What we saw


Youth climate strikes

"There's no planet B": Thousands of youth strike against climate change - we need socialist change!

Youth strike for the climate reports: "There's no planet B"


Opinion

TV: Les Misérables - Hugo's novel and this adaptation both offer a message of hope

The Socialist Inbox


What we think

Eight Blairites split - Now kick out the rest


Workplace news

PCS Left Unity must unite on pay and elections

Universal Credit staff ballot for action

Annoyed?! I'm annoyed to be on poverty wages

Nationalise to save jobs at Honda!

Birmingham bin strike against 'blacklisting'

Deliveroo riders strike against exploitative pay and conditions

Leicester college pay strike goes on

Cardiff Uni: urgent action needed to stop job cuts

Hackney: Unite fights racism and victimisation

Harrowing accounts of austerity at Unison women's conference

Unite GLL pay campaign


International socialist news and analysis

Spanish state: social polarisation and budget defeat force snap election


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Unite union London council workers back Enfield Labour no-cuts call

Leeds TUC presents a no-cuts alternative budget

Socialist Students conference shows potential for fighting leadership

London housing campaigners disrupt auction

Birmingham Uni: Standing up to racism is not harassment!

Leicester Socialists stand against Blairite mayor

Lincoln students back UCU ballot

Leicestershire needs NHS beds

Claimants and union slam Universal Credit

Energy retail firm collapse hits Tyneside


World economy

New recession fear stalks the world economy


 

Home   |   The Socialist 20 February 2019   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

TV:

triangleTV: Crime and Punishment - this brutal watch is a damning indictment of cuts and capitalism

triangleTV: The Accident - Will capitalism be exposed in upsetting, true-to-life drama?

triangleLeeds pensioners occupy BBC to save free TV licenses

triangleDozens of protests say Boris must go - Socialist Party policies heard on TV

triangleStop the latest Tory attack on our pensions

Women:

triangleSecret police infiltration of workers' movement exposed

triangleInternational Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleMass union mobilisation needed to counter anti-choice group

France:

triangleMillions strike in France

triangleEast London Socialist Party: Lessons of France '68 for the climate strikes today

triangleFrance Telecom: Privatisation in the dock

BBC:

trianglePrince Andrew outrage exposes establishment

triangleNHS in critical condition

Gilets jaunes:

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

10/12/19

Socialist Party

Come and discuss with us after the election

10/12/19

Usdaw

The Activist Issue 82 - for retail workers

10/12/19

Morrisons

Pay Deal: ACAS sides with management - a missed opportunity to fight

9/12/19

Swansea

Swansea: Corbyn rally attracts turnout but many can't get in

4/12/19

Socialist Party

Fight for your future - join the socialists

4/12/19

UCU

Strikes: more determined than ever

4/12/19

Socialist Students

Students and workers united in struggle

4/12/19

South Western Railway

It's a strike to ensure the safety of the travelling public

4/12/19

Surrey

Surrey firefighters to ballot on Christmas industrial action

4/12/19

Hull

Social workers lobby Hull City Council

4/12/19

Climate change

Climate strikes: Students and trade unionists protest together

4/12/19

Socialist Party

Why I joined: "Proud to be a socialist"

4/12/19

Carlisle

Carlisle election meeting: Education - time to make the mega-rich and corporations pay

4/12/19

Council

Workplace news in brief

4/12/19

West Midlands

Solid support for guards on West Midlands Trains

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999